Nick Cassidy creeping towards his motorsport goals
Mitch Evans recently posted that he was looking to a future in sports car racing and that his Formula 1 dream was “realistically over”.
So it seems that yet another talented Kiwi fails in the quest for what is seen as the ultimate goal in world motor sports: to say, “I am a Formula 1 driver”.
As Evans refocuses his career options we have another supremely talented Kiwi driver creeping ever closer to his own goal.
Nick Cassidy has chosen a different route, although “chosen” is perhaps not the right word, more like “seized the opportunities”, as he has skipped from continent to continent, country to country, in his search for competitive driving seats.
Cassidy was back home in Auckland briefly recently and we were able to have a good talk about the past, the now and the future for him.
Nick Cassidy. Picture/Supplied.
It has been a tough journey so far with a constant search for backers and sponsors to help get to the next step on the road. With 200 races entered since stepping out of his karting days and a win record better than 25 per cent, the talent is clearly there, but just how difficult is it for a young man to leave his home, his family, everything he knows, to follow the dream. Nick arrived in Britain aged 17 with high ambitions but, in his own words, “I didn’t realise how tough it was going to be and didn’t have enough respect for simply living life outside of racing.” He believes that affected his performance for his first year. He had no connections at the time, knew nobody and, having come from the bosom of his close-knit family, had to cope with the simple things in life like laundry and feeding himself. His parents are incredibly supportive of him but he does not want to depend on them for financial support. Instead he is fortunate to have received funding from personal sponsors in New Zealand and, together with money saved from successful campaigns in the Toyota Racing Series, he can look after his own living expenses, but has never had enough to be able to pay for a drive. A drive in Britain will cost from $675,000 to $3.3 million. Although having lived in England for three years and driving for an English-based team in Fortec Motorsports, Cassidy has never raced on English tracks, as his first season was spent racing mainly in continental Europe. He was based initially in Northampton, then with a relative in Milton Keynes. That city is in the very heart of the motor racing world. It has seen hundreds of young racing “hopefuls” take up temporary residence before drifting back to “normal” life or, like Cassidy, going on to further their careers. Now based in Gotemba near Mount Fuji in Japan, Cassidy drives for Team Tom’s Toyota in the Japanese Formula 3 series. With just four races to be run, Cassidy leads the championship. Life in Japan is still tough for him, especially in a small city, with language an obvious problem and with no friends around. “You do get used to living alone. Not hearing any English spoken makes it a very singular life, with even the little local kids staring at you as if you are an alien. I have mastered the use of hashi [chopsticks] but not the language as yet,” said Cassidy. Historically, the Japanese route to European racing is well trodden, but Cassidy sees his immediate future in Japan, hopefully in the Japanese Super Formula or Super GT and that could lead to “paid employment”. Not having a management group behind him, Cassidy has had to plot his own path but he does have a close group of supporters. Former Toyota Racing Series champ and now Red Bull Formula 1 driver Daniil Kvyat has helped with a contact or two on occasion. In conjunction with his racing schedule with the Tom’s team in Japan, Cassidy has forged an alliance with BMW and has been selected as a member of that company’s Motorsport Juniors Programme. That, he hopes, will lead to other drives in Europe with the realistic aim of the German DTM series. As he approaches his 21st birthday next Wednesday , Cassidy’s words to other young hopeful drivers are simple: “Never give up. Make and use any contacts you can, focus on the end game and again, never give up.” Cassidy is now determined and focused — and “will never give up” on his ambitions.